Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Commercials Influence Unhappy Children to Want More Material Things

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. capitalize (v.) 
[kap-i-tl-ahyz] – take advantage of someone or something; to profit from someone
Example: Hackers capitalize on people who do not know how to keep their computer secure.

2. tween (n.) [tween] – an informal term for a child that has grown but is still too young to be considered a teenager
Example: Many of today’s tweens are already experts at using mobile phones and tablets.

3. possession (n.) [puh-zesh-uhn] – something that is owned
Example: The businessman’s most expensive possession is a car worth over a million dollars. 

4. materialism (n.) [muh-teer-ee-uh-liz-uhm] – a way of thinking in which material things matter the most
Example: Too much exposure to advertising can lead to materialism

5. life satisfaction (n. phrase) [lahyf sat-is-fak-shuhn] – how a person feels about his life
Example: A person’s life satisfaction should not be based only on wealth.

Read the text below.

Marketers often try to capitalize on tweens who believe the latest toys, gadgets or clothing can make them happy and popular. But a recent study in Netherlands shows that only unhappy tweens put high value on material possessions [puh-ZESH-uhns].

Lead researcher Suzanna Opree from the University of Amsterdam studied the connection between materialism and the happiness of tweens over a long time period.

The researchers asked 466 Dutch children, aged 8 to11, to answer questions about the level of their life satisfaction, their attitude towards possessions and the amount of time they spend on watching TV. Opree said this age group was chosen because the tween stage is when materialism starts to develop.

Researchers learned that children in the study became materialistic if they were unhappy and watched a lot of television. Opree said the reason for the result may be that these children want the happiness promised by products in commercials.

In contrast, materialism did not develop in happy children, even if they watched hours of TV.  Similarly, tweens with low life satisfaction who watched little TV were not very interested in possessions as well.

Opree believes parents are important in increasing children’s life satisfaction.  She advises parents to make children watch less TV if the children seem to be developing materialism. She says adults should discuss anything negative they see on advertisements with tweens to lessen tweens’ desire for the products.  

In the US, the total yearly spending of tweens amounts to $28 billion, while parents spend $200 billion each year on their tween children.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Do you think it is natural for children to want so many things these days? What makes you say so?
·         What are some other ways to teach children not to be materialistic?

Discussion B

·         Can you describe something you own that you care a lot about? Why is it special to you?
·         How can we stop ourselves from wanting or buying more things than we need?

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